Improving Equity and Inclusion in Education using Virtual and Augmented Reality in Open Distance Learning

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Abdul Uzza, Aisyamariam
Hamdan, Analisa
Darshan Singh, Abtar
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
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PCF10 Sub-theme: Promoting Equity and Inclusion // School closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have caused many countries to transform teaching and learning (T&L) using digital pedagogical techniques and tools. Educators and learners constantly communicated using networked devices such as smartphones and tablets to share content and to track learners’ learning progress. Also, many educational institutions across the globe rapidly built online courses and developed innovative online content in ensuring learning is continuous and responding to the challenges they faced in adapting and conducting online classes. Even though several countries have re-opened schools to foster various needs of learners, the pandemic did not stop education institutions to digitize their T&L approaches. The increasing number of affordable and more durable online courses in an Open Distance Learning (ODL) environment, for example, micro-credentials, have pushed education institutions to develop innovative programs and structures in improving the effectiveness of distance education. According to Ellysse (2021), virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/ AR /MR) environments are more immersive, real, and motivating for learners and should be capitalized to bring a more transformative effect on the learning process. Apart from the effectiveness and impact of learning, it is also imperative that technological applications and use in classrooms should ensure inclusive and equitable principles are included to meet the social and emotional needs of students. Coupled with this, there is also a new generation of students entering college: they are digital natives who are connected 24/7 to their mobile devices (Harris, 2012) and it is important to ensure their learning needs are met too. Research by Sung (2014) using VR/AR combined with collaborative learning and the flexibility of mobile devices for a more ubiquitous experience may aid researchers in further improving inclusivity and equity of learning. Thus, creating lessons for ODL learners using VR/ AR /MR for a more inclusive and equitable environment necessitates looking at emerging pedagogical structures. In this paper, we sought to answer the research question: What are educators' perceptions and attitudes about using VR /AR technologies to improve equity and inclusion in education? Towards this, a qualitative study on the lecturer’s perception using purposive sampling was conducted. An open-ended survey questionnaire with responses from eight academicians were qualitatively analyzed using NVIVO 9. From the findings, most of educators believe and are aware that using VR/AR in the classroom can improve equity and inclusion. Finally, this study provides recommendations to educators and stakeholders in implementing AR/VR in their T&L approaches. // Paper ID 142
Open and Distance Learning (ODL), Online Learning, Micro-Credentials, Instructional Design, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality, Equality, Inclusion, Distance Education